The Co-Knucklehead of the Day award Part Five
Our fifth winner today is Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC. They are an advertising agency hired by the Maine Dept. of Tourism. Warren Kremer Paino is suing blogger Lance Dutson claiming Mr. Dutson defamed the company and violated their copyright at this website. I blogged about this story here.
Warren Kremer is upset because they've been made out to look like fools. Fools they are, for preparing advertisments that showed a number for a phone sex service. They're obviously a waste of taxpayer money and Lance Dutson pulled down the pants for the State of Maine to see.
Tom McCartin the President of Warren Kremer is complaining about the damage Dutson is doing to his agency. Well it was self-inflicted, they're the ones who made themselves into a joke with an advertisement.
For seeking revenge through a frivolous lawsuit, Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC is today's fifth Co-Knucklehead of the day.
Below is an article from today's Boston Globe.
Hat tip- Outside the Beltway
Open Post- Bright & Early, Basil's Blog, Right Wing Nation, Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe, TMH's Bacon Bits, Third World County,
A coastal Maine blogger who criticized the state's tourism office has been hit with a lawsuit seeking potentially more than $1 million in damages for allegedly making false statements and posting on his website, Maine Web Report, images from proposed tourism advertisements a New York agency prepared for Maine officials.
''It's a reflection of the extent to which businesses are taking critiques from the blogosphere very seriously," said John G. Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. ''Bloggers have gained enormous power."
Warren Kremer Paino Advertising LLC, an agency hired by the Maine Department of Tourism, filed suit in US District Court in Maine last week, alleging the blogger, Lance Dutson of Searsmont, Maine, outside Camden, violated the agency's copyright and defamed the agency in blog entries self-published at www.mainewebreport.com.
Dutson, an independent Web designer, launched his blog last fall to comment on technology and Maine tourism issues. He has written commentaries ridiculing the state's tourism efforts and, last month, he posted a ''rough draft" advertisement pulled from Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development website showing a collage of iconic images of the Maine seacoast, woodlands, and ski slopes, with a dummy phone number that turned out to connect to a line promoting a phone sex service. The agency had inadvertently placed the phone number on the draft advertisement for a presentation made to state tourism officials.
''This is supposed to be our biggest industry," Dutson wrote on his blog yesterday, referring to tourism, ''but it's being run like a trailer park daycare on its 3rd notice from the Human Services people."
In an interview yesterday, Dutson said he was served with the lawsuit Saturday by a sheriff. ''This cop car pulled up to my house," he recalled. ''It was pretty good for neighborhood gossip."
The advertising agency is suing Dutson on three counts: copyright infringement, defamation, and trade libel/injurious falsehood. It seeks statutory damages of $150,000 for each of six images it alleges were infringed upon, as well as unspecified punitive damages and legal fees. Dutson is being represented by Gregory W. Herbert, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig in Orlando.
Dutson said he thinks Warren Kremer Paino is trying to silence him. ''I'm basically a freelance Web designer," he said. ''I have three kids. We're just a dead-middle-of-the-road Maine family. If they succeed in this, it'll ruin us. I can't write that kind of a check."
In the lawsuit, filed by the agency's attorney, Alfred C. Frawley III of Preti Flaherty in Portland, Maine, the plaintiff claims Dutson's blog ''contains numerous defamatory statements designed to blacken" the agency's reputation. As one example, the suit cites Dutson's claim that the advertising agency has been wasting Maine taxpayers' money in its work for the tourism department.
Tom McCartin, president and chief operating officer at Warren Kremer Paino, said the firm decided to sue after Dutson walked out of a meeting scheduled in Augusta, Maine, specifically to address his concerns about the tourism campaign.
''I don't think his real mission here is to get answers for the taxpayers of the state," McCartin said. ''One of the things he wants to do is to get attention. He's potentially causing some real harm to our agency if people go into his blog and start reading things that aren't true."
Other bloggers have rushed to Dutson's defense, portraying the matter as a clear-cut free speech and First Amendment issue. ''This is a deep-pocketed litigator trying to stop a small media outlet, a blog, for saying things that they don't like," said Robert A. Cox, a New Rochelle, N.Y., blogger and cofounder of the Media Bloggers Association.
The increased scrutiny is putting bloggers on notice that they need to use their power responsibly, said Palfrey at the Berkman Center. But he said the plaintiff faces a high bar in the Maine case.